MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The final break in action of the 2012 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, leads into a two-week run to the finish that will kick off this weekend with the series’ return to Pennsylvania.
The Labor Day Weekend tradition that is the Steel City National will commence on Saturday marking the championship’s final appearance on the East Coast, with the 11th of 12 rounds this summer.
Delmont’s Steel City Raceway has delighted fans for over two decades with its captivating layout and close proximity to Pittsburgh. This weekend’s 24th annual event is sure to be memorable as newly-crowned 450 Class Champion Ryan Dungey sets his sights on a ninth-consecutive win.
In the 250 Class, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Blake Baggett is inching closer to his first career professional title, targeting his fifth victory of the summer.
At the championship’s previous stop from Unadilla two weekends ago, Dungey proved why he has been the rider to beat all summer long. Despite suffering misfortune early in the opening moto, Dungey battled his way through the field, taking the lead late and setting the stage for a dominant second moto that not only secured his eighth straight win, but also his second premier class title, the first for his KTM squad.
Dungey’s historic season for KTM has helped make the manufacturer one of the top contenders in the series, with the brand’s first overall win and title both coming on behalf of the new champion. Additionally, Mike Alessi’s incredible season that currently has him in position to claim the runner-up spot in the standings has helped vault MotoConcepts Suzuki into the spotlight as a privateer effort.
Behind this duo, the chase for the third and final spot on the championship podium is heating up between Chaparral Honda’s Andrew Short, who currently sits third, along with Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jake Weimer and Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Broc Tickle, who are tied for fourth.
Last season at Steel City, Dungey and eventual champion Ryan Villopoto put on an incredible battle for the fans, going bar-to-bar all afternoon long. Villopoto ultimately prevailed, putting him within striking distance of the title.
While he missed out in finishing on the overall podium at Unadilla, Baggett still left the previous round with a comfortable margin over his rivals in the 250 Class title fight. Meanwhile, a battle was waged at the front of the field between the Red Bull KTM duo of Marvin Musquin and Ken Roczen, as well as GEICO Honda’s Eli Tomac.
After a pair of captivating motos, Musquin’s consistency helped him emerge with his first career victory on American soil, despite not winning either moto. The win also capped off a banner day for KTM, which enjoyed its first triumphant effort in the 250 Class since the 2006 season.
In the championship standings, Baggett’s fifth-place finish, combined with a fourth-place effort for GEICO Honda’s Justin Barcia, gives him a 24-point advantage heading into Saturday at Steel City, while Tomac sits just an additional four points back.
Last year at Steel City, Dean Wilson raced to his second consecutive victory with a dominant 1-1 effort that also helped him secure his first career title.
While the world’s best riders continue to do battle for individual achievement, the coveted Manufacturers Championship is also heating up with only two rounds remaining. This season-long battle between the five brands takes the point value associated with the best finish in every 450 and 250 Class moto for each respective manufacturer and compiles a season tally. The manufacturer with the most points at season’s end will earn the coveted title. Currently, thanks to the exceptional efforts by Dungey, Roczen and Musquin, KTM leads the championship, holding a 49-point lead over Kawasaki, which has been led by Weimer, Tickle, Baggett and Tyla Rattray.
Steel City Raceway has hosted the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship since the 1989 season. It was the site of the very first Saturday event in the history of the sport in 2008, beginning a new tradition of single-day events that has been a key element in the growth of the sport.
As a Labor Day Weekend staple in the sport of motocross, Steel City has become affectionately known as the American Motocross Festival, celebrating the end of the summer with a national holiday competition that showcases the fastest riders on the planet.
The Steel City National will feature a full day of live broadcast coverage. Opening motos of both the 450 and 250 Classes will be featured live on FUEL TV, beginning at 1 p.m. Eastern, while also streaming live online at AlliSports.com. Final moto coverage of both classes can be seen on NBC Sports Network, beginning at 3 p.m. Eastern.